Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Alamo Bowl: Three keys for Oklahoma State
By David Ubben
1. Keep Arizona from YAC-ing all over the place. Oklahoma State fans will recognize Arizona's offense quickly. It's a close relative of the Air Raid at Texas Tech, not entirely unlike the Cowboys' own offense. Short, quick passes get the ball in the hands of playmakers who try to break a tackle or make a defender miss to move the ball down the field. If Oklahoma State's secondary, corners Brodrick Brown and Andrew McGee and safeties Johnny Thomas and Markelle Martin, and even the linebackers can get receivers and running backs down quickly, they'll stymie the offense and prevent the big play. Forcing Nick Foles to complete as many passes as possible to win is a solid recipe for a win.
2. Seriously, give Kendall Hunter the ball. Oklahoma State's offense has struggled most when Hunter has gotten the ball the least. Most notably, it happened in the first half against Texas A&M and the entire game against Oklahoma. The Cowboys scored 41 against the Sooners, but 14 of those points were non-offensive touchdowns and Hunter got just 13 carries. Oklahoma State ran only 66 plays in that game to Oklahoma's 107 (most in the FBS in 2010), but Hunter needed to have the ball in his hands for more than 13 of those 66. If that happens against Arizona, the Cowboys, favored by about a touchdown, should be fine.
3. No special teams mistakes. Kicker Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker, but he also missed four kicks in the three games before the loss to Oklahoma, including one from inside 40 yards against Baylor. Additionally, punter Quinn Sharp and his long snapper Marc Yerry are ineligible for the game. Bailey might end up with punting duty with a freshman snapping to him. Certainly, the potential for disaster is there. Prevent it, and the Cowboys can keep from giving away points that could come back to hurt them later.